An attorney for BART said tonight that Johannes Mehserle's involuntary manslaughter conviction for the shooting death of Oscar Grant III is consistent with the transit agency's position that the shooting was a mistake by Mehserle.
Dale Allen, an outside lawyer hired by BART to defend itself against a wrongful death suit that was filed by Grant's family, said, "The position of BART has always been that the shooting was a mistake, and now the jury has found that it was a negligent mistake" and Mehserle committed a crime.
Allen, who attended all of Mehserle's trial, said BART has always "accepted responsibility for the actions of Mr. Mehserle" and agreed that it had civil liability in Grant's death.
Oakland attorney John Burris filed a $50 million wrongful death and civil rights lawsuit on behalf of Grant's family against BART, Mehserle and several other officers on March 2, 2009.
On Jan. 27, BART reached a $1.5 million settlement for Grant's 5-year-old daughter, Tatiana Grant. The agency has not yet reached a settlement with Grant's mother, Wanda Johnson.
Settlement talks broke off in early February after Burris accused BART of breaching a confidentiality agreement by disclosing the details of the settlement for Tatiana Grant.
But Allen said he and Burris have agreed to seek mediation and will ask U.S. District Court Judge Marilyn Patel to appoint a mediator when they return to her San Francisco courtroom for a case management conference on Aug. 9.
He noted that the hearing will be three days after Mehserle's sentencing on Aug. 6.
"We will see if there are reasonable grounds to settle the case. Reasonable minds can find common ground," Allen said.